Wednesday, September 21, 2016

moments of grace // what i'm capable of

While mustering the good will, strength, and decisions filled with grace to share cheerfulness in our home doesn't always come easily to the sinner that I am; there are moments. Thanks be to God, there are moments!


Little by little each moment builds upon the last, each being filled with grace by the One who loved each of us first. My imperfect self, the instrument that is found in our home and family, wants to see amazing love all around my family and I in every moment. Realistic? Not so much. Truly though, I just want to see our children being loved as their Father in Heaven loves them! I want this for them all day/everyday - BUT, this instrument also does not want any troubles or hiccups, ever.

Truth is, days filled with perfection just can't be. Or, at least, not in this life. I pray for the grace that the hearts of those around me are still being filled despite me, because that's what I desire. I want the hearts around me to be held by all the little moments filled with grace, His Grace!

Moments of grace can be hard to see sometimes, but I know we all experience them. Those fleeting times filled with snuggles, dancing, smiles, embraces, chatter, play, flirting eyes, hugs, sweetness, serving, conversations that keep us close, and more. When I take the time to see the grace, despite my chaos, life feels more manageable.

Here in my present, moments are what I'm capable of. The present moment is where I am and; therefore, where I'm called to love. Whether I am ruining a moment by my own grievous fault or filling it with beauty, love, goodness, and truth, it's these moments that shape me, my family, and in a very teeny tiny way, the world around me.

Thankfully, He is found in my present moment loving little me and those around me DESPITE my failings. Thankfully, there is grace that abounds. Thankfully, I and all I meet were created by a God who loves them more than we'll ever fully know. Thankfully, He works through ALL things. Thankfully!

When I think of being and doing all the things, my heart feels so overwhelmed and burdened into a stillness that feels like paralysis and short breathes but when I am able to bring myself to my present, that's where I can find Him holding me and nudging me along my little way. 

His nudges are good and sweet and constant - just what I need during my highs and most especially, during my lows.

Are you familiar with the lows? The ones where you can't get outside yourself. The ones where you burrow into self, self, and more self. The ones where you lose sight of what it's all about amidst joy and amidst suffering. The ones where you can't see that there is something greater happening for the sake of His Glory and Goodness. Moments just seem to slip away and you're left wondering where they all went.

I know I do. In fact, I'm v e r y familiar with this place. 

BUT, I find joy and peace in knowing that whether I acknowledge that there is something greater happening or not, whether I live in that Truth or not, He truly is being made known. 

He is always being made known.

Christ didn't just share the joy and glory and goodness of His amazing Resurrection with us so that we could always live in that exhilarating moment. He lived His journey first. The one filled with moments. The journey filled with family, friends, growth, joy, sorrow, parables, fear, sadness, goodness, and hope. The journey of Love made known in all things was His first. Thanks be to God.

"On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord."

-John 20:19-20


That day He met his disciples in their fear. He met them in their moment and brought them so much joy and peace. Meeting them there was important to Him. How beautiful and encouraging is that?! He went to them, made Himself known, and loved them.

That day so long ago, His disciples needed their hearts to be awakened just as much as we need ours to be awakened today. We need our souls to be awakened not only to the Truth of His Victory so that we may rejoice but also to the Truth of every single one of His moments that amounted to a journey that revealed to us all that is true, good, and beautiful.

Moments matter. They mattered then when He journeyed to the Cross, and they matter now as we are seeking Him amidst our daily grind, thanks be to God!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

saint teresa: on silence and mothering

There was a time, while I lived in DC, that religious life was on my mind and heart. It was a small whisper that I know wanted but a whisper that Our Lord would ultimately turn to silence, obviously. Nonetheless, it was a thought that I was actively exploring in my heart and through my prayers.

Our Sweet Lord appeased me, funny enough, by sharing this teeny tiny whisper with a friend of mine who encouraged me to join her on venturing out to see the Missionaries of Charity. Anxiously, timidly, and excitedly I went.

I don't know what I was expecting. Maybe a rush of understanding that this was the place He was calling me to? Maybe a feeling of home? Maybe overwhelming peace?

While I did feel many of these things, I didn't feel them the way I thought I would and had prayed I would. Though, because the Lord is good and all-knowing and uses all to His good and Holy Will, this experience was exactly what I needed and has bore much fruit not only in my single life but also in my present vocation as wife and mother.

--

For a little background, my friend and I visited with the sisters, saw their life and how they cared for the least of these. A kind sister, the sweetest and gentle of souls, guided and shared with us to her hearts content. This sister spent a number of years in the presence of the very saint that was canonized today - St. Teresa of Calcutta. I remember thinking how amazing it was that she got to spend so much time in the presence of a woman who was surely going to be canonized some day! Sister delightedly relayed bits and pieces of that life and my soul just quietly took it all in.

As we were leaving, Sister kindly gave a few odds and ends for us to take home with us. One small and simple thing she gifted me was a card that had two prayers on it; two prayers that I have kept close to my heart more than I ever thought I would in the years to come.


Being the introvert that I am, silence is a very desirable and good thing for my heart and my peace. For me, when I first read this prayer, silence was the romance that was spoken throughout my visits with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. I truly romanticized any and all moments of silence. Christ was there in my present, loving me. The quietness that soothed my soul was time well spent but did not get me out of my comfort, but rather, nourished the very core of me.

"The fruit of SILENCE is Prayer.The Fruit of PRAYER is Faith.The fruit of FAITH is Love.The fruit of LOVE is Service.The fruit of SERVICE is Peace."

-St. Teresa of Calcutta


In contrast, there's St. Teresa of Calcutta, a woman's who's silence was something similar to mine but also very different. It was not only had during times spent in front of the Blessed Sacrament where her soul was nourished by His True Presence but one that also poured forth into her ministry to bless others with a beautiful and good love. Her SILENCE stretched all the way out into PEACE. Her soul did not stop at faith or love but moved out into SERVICE and finally a PEACE that surpasses all understanding. The very peace that stirred the souls around her - mine included.

I needed that awareness then as I do now, every day. The fruit of silence is not only had in front of Christ in an Adoration Chapel. No. It is and should also be had from deep within me as I encounter Christ in the least of these in my home, in my family, in my friendships, in strangers, in chores, in work, and in all I do. Silence starts from within if we let Him settle into the little nooks of our soul in hopes that prayer, faith, love, service, and peace will pour fourth into the gifts that they are, not only for ourselves, but for others too.


The other prayer that I wanted to share is what is on the backside of the Fruit of Silence prayer. This prayer took my heart by storm but not until I became a mother.

"Mary, Mother of Jesus, Be a Mother to me now."

-St. Teresa of Calcutta


While in graduate school, my now husband and I came back into each others' lives to journey towards the vocation which God had called us to, marriage. Little did I know how much the backside of this prayer card would meet me in my darkest of nights.

You see, today I am not only called wife, but I am also called mama by three little souls. No name has ever been so challenging and humbling. Never have I felt the weight of another's soul more than since becoming a mama. This truth only God knew that my little soul would need while on my journey Home.

Truth be told, nothing could have prepared me for what motherhood has entailed. It has broken me and built me only to break and rebuild me again and again. It has brought me to my knees in ways I never knew possible.

10:00 PM (cue crying newborn) Mary, Mother of Jesus, be a mother to me now.

11:00 PM (Cue crying baby) Mary, Mother of Jesus, be a mother to me now.

1:00 AM (Cue wailing infant) Mary, Mother of Jesus, be a mother to me now.

3:00 AM (Cue scared and crying toddler) Mary, Mother of Jesus, be a mother to me now.

5:00 AM (Cue a child who has had a bad dream) Mary, Mother of Jesus, be a mother to me now.

7:00 AM (Cue children, ready to start their day) Mary, Mother of Jesus, be a mother to me now.

On REPEAT.

When I say, darkest of nights, this is what I refer to. It's darker than dark in the middle of night, especially if it's your third, fourth, fifth, etc night of very little sleep. It's even darker when you know there is a beautiful soul calling you mama, tugging on your heart by simply asking for love, while all you can think of is needing/wanting more s l e e p now.

Never have I ever needed a mother more than while trying to mother my own children in the middle of the night on little to no sleep or during the day following said night. Never have I needed Our Lady to bring the prayers of my heart to Our Lord than while trying to love these precious gifts He shared with my husband and I. Broken and tired, I would get up, respond, tend, and try to love but not without pleading to be mothered myself first. 

Today's newly canonized saint knew what it was to give of herself through the night until she felt like she could give no more. She knew and her heart formed these words together into what has been a balm and strength and comfort to my own mothering heart during my dark nights of trying to love those nearest to me. I felt held and loved by the powerful praying words of Our Lady as I tried to hold and love a snuggled up child given to us by her Son.

The beauty of Mother Teresa's heart and how she has shared it with the world truly are an everlasting blessing to all of us that are still soldiering on. I know her words will continue to form and encourage my own walk on this earth, which is exciting and truly gift - a gift that landed in my life in the form of a small and simple prayer card so very long ago.

--

Deo Gratias, for today's beautiful and newly canonized saint! Deo Gratias, for the goodness, truth, and beauty she has shared with the world! and, Deo Gratias, for all the ways her obedient and good soul has shared strength, perspective, and love to my own little soul that is still journeying on.

St. Teresa of Calcutta, ora pro nobis.
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